Thrilling Rides a Wave of Vintage Interest to Get Mom-and-Pop Thrift Shops Online

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a general assignment reporter for dot.LA. She's previously reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. Before joining dot.LA, she served as a communications fellow at an environmental science research center in Sri Lanka. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Before Poshmark and the RealReal and ThredUp went public, Shilla Kim-Parker had a hard time convincing investors there was a market for buying used clothes online.

Those companies flourished in recent years and helped Kim-Parker make the case for her company, Thrilling. On Tuesday, it closed an $8.5 million Series A round led by Prelude Venture.


Over 300 store owners now use her app to upload photos of their inventory for shoppers living, on average, 1,400 miles away. The Los Angeles-based startup has partnered with big name retailers Banana Republic and celebrity stylist Zerina Akers on curated vintage collections.

"Our goal is to make secondhand and vintage shopping more of a habit for more people," said Kim-Parker, Thrilling's CEO and co-founder.

The pandemic only fueled her startup's growth as shoppers were forced to browse online instead of stores. Kim-Parker said she gave thrift stores and other mom-and-pop vintage stores reeling from the pandemic a new way to supplement — or completely replace — revenue they pulled in pre-pandemic.

Shila Kim-Parker, Thrilling CEO and co-founder

Thrilling CEO and co-founder Shilla Kim-Parker

"There were all these ways to go online, but none of them were geared towards professional curators who have tens of thousands of unique vintage and secondhand inventory," she said.

Each item listed on the web-only platform is sold and shipped directly from the independent seller. Thrilling handles payment processing, shipping and returns and takes a 10% cut of each sale.

Unlike Poshmark or Depop — where users can list and sell items straight from closets at home — Thrilling caters to independent brick-and-mortar stores. It's pitched both as a more sustainable way to shop and as a solution for local store owners transitioning into ecommerce, a demographic Kim-Parker said has largely been ignored.

"My grandparents started the first Black-owned business in their tiny town in North Carolina, a dry cleaner's," Kim-Parker said. "Having grown up among small business owners, especially in and around apparel, I heard firsthand how they felt left behind by the tech industry."

Before the pandemic, she would walk into shops and pitch the idea directly to store owners. But since COVID-19, the team has watched word spread fast. Ninety percent of the startup's partner shops are women and/ or BIPOC-owned.

"Right now we're currently receiving hundreds — up to a thousand — new store applications every month," Kim-Parker said.

The three-year-old startup will use the boost to launch new data analytics features for its store partners and "personalization technology" that curates product suggestions for shoppers. Kim-Parker also hinted at a new website coming next month, which will feature content from store owners about the environmental and social issues impacting their communities.

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Weekly Recap: The State of Venture Capitalism in Southern California

Luis Gomez

Luis Gomez is dot.LA's Engagement Editor. Prior to joining the dot.LA team, he served as the audience growth consultant for Capital & Main. He has also previously worked as a digital producer for The San Diego Union-Tribune, NPR affiliate KPCC in Los Angeles and Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter at @RunGomez.

Top L.A. venture capitalists are benefitting from a white hot market.

This week, dot.LA published the first of several findings out of its quarterly poll of top Los Angeles venture capitalists. In short, those surveyed remain optimistic about the economic recovery and more than half say their companies saw valuations jump in the second quarter.

Among other findings:

  • All of the 33 investors who took the survey saw employee headcounts increase at their portfolio companies last quarter
  • Most VCs surveyed expect more hiring on the horizon
  • Some (36%) said they're having trouble retaining workers.

LA Startups To Watch 👀

MedTech Innovator has launched BioTools Innovator, a new virtual accelerator for genomics, personal medicine, targeted drug therapy and other life science startups.

Culver City-based startup Modern Animal is looking to grow by appealing to both overtaxed vets and the new rush of pet owners with its hybrid telemedicine subscription service. On Friday, it announced a $75.5 million investment to help do it.

Adway promises to pay drivers $50-$350 a month in what they call "passive" income by projecting ads on the side of their cars. This week, the nearly three-year-old company clinched a $6 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures.

Spinn, the maker of a coffee brewing machine that uses a unique "centrifuge process," has raised $20 million in a round of funding announced Monday. The startup says its focus on sustainability sets it apart from other at-home brewing machines.

#TechLA's Movers & Shakers This Week 📢

Rocket Lab this week successfully launched a satellite for the U.S. Space Force after a failed mission in May. MIT-trained engineer and serial tech entrepreneur Krisztina "Z" Holly writes that Rocket Lab's quiet launch represents the real reason to have faith in space exploration, rather than space tourism.

Rental services are finally coming to the masses. Los Angeles-based Arrive Outdoors is making the technology behind its camping gear renting success available to brands that want to add a "rent" button on a product detail page. The company also announced it has raised $4 million in Seed II funding led by Amino Ventures.

LA Tech and Venture Capital News 🗞

El Segundo-based Dibbs, which brands itself as "the only real-time fractional sports card marketplace," this week secured a $13 million Series A round led by Foundry Group, with star athletes like Chris Paul and Skylar Diggins-Smith also investing.

Meta Data Software, a company that organizes the massive content libraries at some of the biggest streaming services, is calling Los Angeles its new home.

New data from PledgeLA's survey of Los Angeles tech companies and venture firms shows there is still a big disparity in pay among women, Black and Latinx tech workers.

Even as sports events scaled down during the pandemic, Elysian Park Ventures saw an opportunity in the digital realm. Co-founder Cole Van Nice says COVID ultimately advanced the timelines for the sports industry.

Listen Up 🎙

Need a podcast recommendation this weekend? Here are some new pods we have for you:

Hear from Alex Friedman, the co-founder of LOLA, a feminine care brand created to address the need for more transparency in women's health, in the latest episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Listen on Stitcher | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | iHeart Radio

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, veteran media investor Daniel Leff spills the truth about streaming services: everyone's chasing Netflix. Listen on Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify

🚨 ​EXTRA EXTRA 🚨

Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees in Irvine and many more remotely walked off the job on Wednesday to protest a workplace culture they call misogynistic and toxic. The walkout came after workers decried the company's response to a lawsuit brought forward by a California agency that accuses Activision Blizzard of fostering a pervasive "frat boy" culture. At their protest, they called on the company to be more transparent in its hiring practices.

Olympics viewership on NBC is taking a dive. New data shows a 36% decline from the 2016 Games across all NBC's platforms, which include its linear TV channel, Peacock and NBC Sports digital.

LA Tech and Venture Capital Events 💬

Immersive gaming experiences took a hit during the pandemic as venues shut down, but industry leaders expect them to come roaring back as people seek greater connections and the industry grows. This week, dot.LA hosted an intimate gathering at the immersive Two Bit Circus in downtown Los Angeles. Watch the video and sort through photos of the event.

Other upcoming Southern California events in the tech and startup scene in August:

Is your organization having an event? Let us feature it in our newsletter! Email luis@dot.la.

Am I doing this right? 🤔

Throw me feedback, compliments or questions on this newsletter at luis@dot.la or on Twitter at @rungomez.

'No Matter What I’m Doing, It's Always Controversial': Cloud9's All-Women Esports Team Talks Sexism in Gaming

Leigh Giangreco
Leigh Giangreco is a reporter covering culture, politics and news. Her work has appeared in outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and Washington City Paper.

The belief that female players aren't tokens in esports is still a radical one. Just as dominant women's teams in traditional sports like the U.S. women's national soccer team struggle with discrimination, women in esports face online harassment and sexism.

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Disney, Walmart Join Local Governments in Requiring Worker Vaccinations

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Entertainment giant Disney and retailer Walmart on Friday became the latest companies to require employees to be vaccinated. They followed Facebook and Google earlier this week.

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